The Restoration of the Priesthood

How it happened.

The First Version of How it Happened (no Angels involved).

Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's mother, describes how Joseph and Oliver were translating 3 Nephi on May 15, 1829, when the Urim and Thummen told Joseph that he and Oliver should immediately go to the nearby Susquana River to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  They immediately did, and knelt in prayer.  When the prayer was over and they were walking back and encountered Samuel Smith.  They told him they had received the Aaronic Priesthood and immediately baptized him in the river.

Later that evening, in the Whitmer Home, Joseph and Oliver prayed and received the Melchezidek Priesthood which allowed confirmation of the Holy Spirit upon someone after baptism.

Later, in 1885 David Whitmer tells the same story, dismissing tales of an angel being involved.  He said he had never heard of an angel being involved in the Priesthood restoration until 1834, 35, or 36.

William E. McLellin, in 1870 said, "I joined the church in 1831.  For years I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver.  I heard not of James, Peter, and John doing so."

The Second Version (1834) of How it Happened (unnamed Angels)

In 1832, Joseph began writing his own history.  In it he described, "thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of Angels to administer the letter of the gospel ... and the ordinances."

On Feb 12, 1834 Joseph mentions in public for the first time that his priesthood "office" had "been conferred upon me by the ministering of the Angel of God, by his own will and by the voice of this Church."

On Sept 7, 1834 in a letter printed in the October issue of the Messenger and Advocate, Cowdery writes:
"The angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance!--What joy!  what wonder!  what amazement!  ... We were rapt in the vision of the Almighty!  Where was room for doubt?  No where: uncertainty had fled ... We received under his hand the priesthood, as he said "upon you my fellow servants ..."

The Third Version (1835) of How it Happened - Joseph Smith Clarifies who the Angels Were

In the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Convenants, Section 27, Joseph Smith added John the Baptist to the Aaronic Priesthood restoration verses, and Peter, James, and John to the Melchezidek restoration verses.

These names did not appear in the descriptions of the events written about in the 1933 Book of Commandments (BoC Section 28).

John the Baptist supposedly received the Aaronic Priesthood via an angel when he was 8 days old, as revealed in the D&C 84:25-28. Verse 28 reads, "For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power."

Peter, James, and John received the Melchezidek Priesthood on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Joseph Smith taught "The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James, and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured.” History of the Church 3:387